In the Messianic/Torah-keeping movement, I often hear about the need for unity. I agree that this is a great need. I wrote an article and I’ve given a sermon on the importance of having unity in the body of Messiah. I think that the call for unity today is somewhat a reaction to the extreme prideful behavior, rudeness, and divisiveness that has characterized this movement from the beginning. It’s good that these issues are being addressed. Indeed, most of the doctrines we argue about are not worth dividing over. But in addressing these matters we must be careful to not move to the other extreme by making the mistake of overlooking destructive, evil doctrines.
Balak, the king of Moab, hated Israel and wanted to see them destroyed. So Balak hired the false prophet, Balaam, to curse Israel (Numbers 22:6). According to the story, the Lord did not allow Balaam to openly curse Israel, but that did not stop Balaam and Balak from working behind the scenes to sabotage Israel anyway:
Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the Lord. (Numbers 31:16)
Balaam couldn’t openly curse Israel, so he circumvented the command of the Lord by advising the Moabite and Midinite women to seduce the men of Israel into fornication and idolatry, thus causing Israel to bring judgment upon themselves. Israel made their own choices, but all of this trouble was brought on by the anti-Israel spirit of Balak and Balaam. Some of the Israelites yoked themselves to this evil spirit:
So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. (Numbers 25:3)
Israel was related to Moab through Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Perhaps many of the Israelites thought it wasn’t that big of a deal to yoke themselves to the Moabites seeing as how they’re family. Some of them might have said to themselves, "We're family! Shouldn't we be unified?" But it was a big deal. And thank God for the zealous Pinchas (Phinehas) who knew where the line was drawn and had the courage to act.
Where is that line? At what point is truth more important than unity? I don’t presume to know exactly where that line should be drawn with regard to all of our doctrines. Practically speaking, I think most matters of halakha should be handled on the local, congregational level. But in the bigger picture of this movement, I want to suggest two lines that should be drawn:
1) We must not yoke with anyone who diminishes the person and work of Yeshua the Messiah. We're the Messianic movement, after all. The Messiah is central to everything. If our foundation is wrong, then everything else falls apart (Matthew 7:24-27).
2) We must not yoke with anyone who promotes anti-Semitism—that is, the sin of Balak and Balaam.
There are "teachers" in the fringe of this movement who promote very anti-Semitic doctrines. There is a particular false teacher I know of who has taught that Adam and Eve literally had sex with Satan and that Cain was half human, half demon. And he taught that the Jewish people are the literal offspring of Satan through Cain. This evil teaching is known as the Serpent Seed doctrine, which is thoroughly refuted here. I recently contacted this false teacher to ask him to denounce this doctrine, and he refused. If you hear anyone teach this nonsense, avoid them like the plague (excuse the pun). Do not yoke yourself to anyone who promotes hatred towards the Jewish people.
Like Pinchas, we must be zealous for the truth. We must be zealous for the holiness of God’s name. We must call out and expose anti-Semitism and any other false doctrine that distorts Scripture and profanes the name of God. I stand with many of the leaders in this movement who are calling for unity, but we can’t forget that some things are more important than unity. We must not yoke ourselves to Baal of Peor.